Matt Roper: The Wonderful World of Wilfredo
Matt Roper, is a writer, comedian and songwriter, having performed in several satirical sketch shows. He cut his teeth in Newsrevue before moving on to co-write and perform A Touch of Roberts and Roper, and appearing in Pippa Evan’s Old Time New Time Music Hall, Twisted Christmas, Nice Mischief to name just a few. He has perfroemd a number of straight stand-up sets over the years, with a myriad of appearances at comedy clubs and music festivals alike, including Glastonbury no less. Recent radio credits include What’s So Funny? and The Comedy Club for BBC radio Four Extra.
Most recently, Matt has been reaching new heights with the creation of his stage character, Wilfredo, who is described as “a grotesque satire of a Mediterranean romantic signer”. The character is everything but charming; frequently salivating onstage, drinking and smoking his way throughout songs, all the while berating his musicians and audience members with insults and expletives. In theory this sounds just wrong, but, in practise, his grotesque charms and flirtatious manner have earned him something of a cult status on the music festival scene and among comedy audiences nationwide.
This year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will see Matt performing as his comic alter ego in The Wonderful World of Wilfredo so we were delighted when agreed to answer our Edinburgh Festival Fringe questions:
Describe your Edinburgh show in three adjectives and explain why.
Musical. It’s all about the music really, and as Wilfredo will be telling you this year in song: he always turns to music, and that’s how he gets by. Grotesque, because Wilfredo’s character, shape, facial expressions and his manners are unnatural, freakish and utterly absurd. He’s such a clown, though he doesn’t even realise it. Infectious because Wilfredo truly believes in the power of himself. His self-confidence is such that his own belief in himself as the greatest entertainer on earth actually resonates among the audience. It’s the dogged self-assurance that people find infectious. Arrogant, yes, but it’s undercut by a charm. I was really, really very pleased with one or two of the reviews from last year’s show where they said they’d left the show truly happy. What more could I ask for than that?
What is so special about performing at the Fringe?
God knows. It’s both an exhilarating and an exasperating experience. The energy of thousands of performers descending on that beautiful city for three weeks really makes you feel you’re part of something truly awesome. Some nights we play to capacity audiences who shower us in laughs, applause and collective approval. On others we play to three Scandinavians and a dog, and silence.
What has been your best moment there?
Last year was my first Fringe, so it was all pretty special. A massive learning curve. Probably my best moment was feeling endorsed on the first night by the paying punters. When it’s all shaped up and it’s all come to plan. It was Mervyn Stutter’s 20th year on the Fringe last year and he held a big fundraising gig at the Pleasance Grand and Wilfredo got to introduce him onstage. An honour. Let it be said.
What was your worst experience there?
Oh, most likely just the wall that all of us hit at some point. The Fringe is a fucking marathon. I have a mate called Fatty. We call each other Fatty actually. She e-mailed me and I confessed I’d hit a wall and she said to me “It’s OK Fatty. Just climb over it.” Wise words, indeed. Climb over it!
Have your preview shows gone to plan?
Still a few more to do on the way up there. It’s a proper road trip of Totnes, Manchester, Lancaster, and then the Fringe. Rock and Roll, you see, in every way.
Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?
Not too much, but you know with this sort of act a lot of it happens and evolves onstage. It’s interactive, and it’ll probably evolve during the Edinburgh season itself. It’s not straight stand-up. It’s very much a set of self-penned songs and poems and anecdotes from a singer. Vegas styley. In his head, anyway.
What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?
There’s me, my producer, and a musician. We’ll get there in the VW Passat I just bought, which I discovered today leaks water, at a ferocious speed, into the footwell when it rains. They won’t realise the truth of it until they read this, but we’ll be jugging out the water when we get there and trying to find a sheltered place to park the fucking thing. Then we shall each bagsy rooms and eat like kings before getting down to work.
Which acts will you be catching there?
I’m very much looking forward to seeing a show by Milo McCabe. It’s called Kenny Moon, This Is Your Life. He’s actually got his Dad in it, who’s an old-school comic. Mine was too. In fact they probably knew each other. He blogged an article about it, about rehearsing with his Dad and it literally had me crying tears of laughter as I could relate to it so much, the differences between the two attitudes to comedy and the frustration from both sides. Abi Roberts isn’t doing a solo show this year but she’s on fire right now. I’ve known her for almost fifteen years since we met doing sketch shows, and she’s doing spots around the festival. She’s outrageous really. Trodd en Bratt are on the Free Fringe this year, a fab double act who are inventive and funny and I like them very much and that is all. My producer is a diamond and has just bought us tickets to see Mark Thomas interviewing Tony Benn. Tony Benn. Just to write his name makes me feel good.
What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?
I shall get my little bottom down to Devon for a week, to be with old friends, and to go for a long walk on Dartmoor. Then to book a flight to India where, hopefully, I’ll spend Christmas this year. It is a land I shall be in love with forever more.
Why should people go and see your show?
Because as far as character comedy goes, there is no more a loving creature on the Fringe than the magnificent Wilfredo. He will charm you. He will romance you, and finally, he’ll seduce you. Boys, come see, come learn, come sigh.
You can cath The Wonderful World of Wilfredo at Just the Tonic at the Tron (Venue 51) at 10:20 pm from the 2nd until the 26th of August (Except the 14th).
All details of the show can be found here.